Jimmy Dean, sausage king and country music, dies at 81

June 14th, 2010 by

Source — Goodbye, Jimmy Dean.

The country star turned sausage king has passed away at the age of 81, his wife said Sunday night.

“He was amazing,” Donna Meade Dean said of her late husband. “He had a lot of talents.”

Dean passed away in his home in Virginia on Sunday evening, The Associated Press reports. He had been sitting down to eat dinner in front of the television when his wife went into the other room. When she returned, he was unresponsive and was later pronounced dead.

Born in 1928, Dean was raised in poverty in Plainview, Texas, and dropped out of high school after the ninth grade. He became an entertainer after getting out of the Air Force, and gained fame during the 1950s as a singer.

He hosted CBS’ “The Morning Show” and in the early 1960s had belted out several hit country tunes, such as “Big Bad John” and “PT-109,” a song which honored President John F. Kennedy’s service in World War II.

On television, Dean rose to fame with “The Jimmy Dean Show,” a variety series on ABC.

In 1969, he created the Jimmy Dean Meat Co., and his sausages eventually became a million-dollar business and a household name. He sold the company to Sara Lee in 1984.

Dean lived in semiretirement with his wife, who is a songwriter and recording artist, on their 200-acre estate just outside Richmond, where he enjoyed investing, boating and watching the sun set over the James River.


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